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Following the bull

Photo by Dave Wallis/Forum Communications Co. Mosbrucker Rodeo bulls are unloaded from a trailer Thursday evening and moved into pens outside the Fargodome in advance of the PRCA rodeo being held there Friday and today.

FARGO -- Loose Lip Louie, a white-and-black speckled bull, looked cool and calm Friday afternoon outside the Fargodome, acknowledging a Forum reporter's presence with barely a snort.

Louie had no mind for media. In a matter of hours, the bumptious bull would be working on his standings as a competitor, whirling and spinning at lightning speed to out-move and outsmart the rider on this back.

While bronc and bull riders compete at this weekend's Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo at the Fargodome, the stock (horses and bulls) will be working to advance as well.

The money earned here counts in the world standings. The rodeo season ends on Sept. 30, with the top 15 finishers in each event qualifying to compete in the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, said Jim Bainbridge, PRCA senior public relations coordinator.

The stock that is used during the finals also must qualify. Only the best 70 from across the nation are used at the Wrangler NFR, Bainbridge said.

This weekend's rodeo is sponsored by the Mosbrucker family of Mandan, who have been raising and supplying the PRCA with rodeo stock since the 1960s.

"Every horse here we raised," Wally Mosbrucker said. "We haven't bought a horse in many, many years."

Their herd has grown to more than 400. For this weekend's rodeo, the Mosbruckers brought 20 bulls and 47 horses.

Within the rodeo circuit, the stock stars can rival their two-legged counterparts in popularity. Each horse and bull has its own style inside and outside the arena.

"Everyone's different, just like humans. They've all got their own personalities," Mosbrucker said. "Some are more quiet and laid-back, and others are more high-strung and bossy. Everyone's a little different."

Saddle broncs such as Dakota Bay, Little Hawk, Silver Moon or War and Peace are well-versed in their jobs, and they know when they're good at it.

"They know when they do a good job. Some of them like taking that extra victory lap around the arena. They hold their heads up even higher; they know when they've done good," Mosbrucker said.

Mosbrucker said all his bulls are fairly gentle outside the arena.

Standing inside Loose Lip Louie's pen is another white-and-black bull: Horns and Halos, the Badlands Circuit Bull of the year. He stands a few inches shorter than Louie, but Mosbrucker said he can buck just as hard.

"Size doesn't really matter," he said.

Riders drew names earlier this week to see which horse or bull they would be riding. Many riders follow the bulls closely, studying their history in an attempt to put in a better ride.

But Matt Pojanowski, 30, a bull rider from Sebeka, Minn., said that's not his style.

"Some guys like to know what they're getting on, and some guys couldn't care less. I couldn't really care less. You're going to ride either way," Pojanowski said. "If you get to thinking about what the bull does or has done in the past, a lot of times it will be something different. If you get to cheating them or setting traps, they'll know it."

Like Loose Lip Louie on Friday, Pojanowski calmly checked out his surroundings before the action got under way Friday night. He said even a rider who thinks they've got a bull figured out can be outsmarted on the ride.

"There are some bulls that are very smart. They can feel what you're doing," Pojanowski said. "If they can feel you maybe sitting off to the right side a little bit, then they'll feel you and go the other way."

Reuer is a reporter for The Forum

of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.